by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
When you hear the word evaluation, what goes through your mind?
I have friends, as I’m sure each of you do, who are content with their current position at their place of employment. They’re good people who show up every day, do what’s asked of them, go home, and come back the next day to do it all over again. They’re happy with where they’re at and in many cases are fearful of change.
I’m not one of those people. That’s just not my mindset. I know that I’m going to make mistakes, and I’m okay with that. Now, don’t misinterpret what I just said. While I can accept that I will make mistakes, when one happens, I’m going to get to the bottom of it because I want to know why. I believe that constant evaluation is the only way that I can best serve you, the readers of this newsletter, as well as our clients at Tudor Collegiate Strategies.
So, if you want to get better today at what I believe is a key component of successful recruiting, (phone calls with prospective students) keep reading because I will help you analyze the content of your recruiting calls and determine what you can do better the next time.
When Dan Tudor and I ask our clients about recruiting phone calls we find that they either love them or hate them.
Regardless of which group you fall into, very few admissions counselors adequately evaluate their recruiting calls. Let’s change that.
I’ve developed a list of fifteen questions that will help you build the foundation for effective recruiting phone calls. Many of these can be asked regardless of where the student is at in the college search process.
- At some point during the phone call, did you make them feel wanted? I harp on this all the time when I lead an On-Campus Workshop. Successful counselors never forget that it’s not about what they want, but rather the wants and needs of their recruits. Having said that, if your answer to the question was yes, how did you accomplish that?
- How much talking did you do vs. them? If you spent a lot of time bragging about different aspects of your school or telling them all the reasons you’re better than school B and C, you risk boring your recruit. Also don’t be shocked if they forget key pieces of information that you discussed during the call.
- Did you start the phone call with a weak, non-specific phrase? In the same way that we recommend your letters and emails be original and have a strong opening sentence, the same holds true for your phone call. Some common phrases that you should avoid include, “I was just calling to see if you had any questions,” and “I’m just calling to follow-up on that stuff I sent you.” Those sound weak and they don’t set-up the rest of your vitally important recruiting call for success.
- Did you give them the chance to ask questions? You need to create opportunities in each call that allows your recruit to open up and respond to your questions, as well as ask questions of their own.
- Prior to your phone call, did you communicate the call would be happening? If you didn’t and they still answered their phone, understand that you got lucky. If you don’t set up your phone communications with your recruits you’re missing an effective way to get them comfortable with the idea of talking to you.
- Did you make them laugh? If you didn’t, research shows that you failed to engage one of the primary ways we connect with each other.
- Were you able to get any missing information that you needed? Things like their transcript or other application supplements, parents’ email address, etc.
- Did you ask him or her what they view as the next step in the process? This is a big one! When we begin work with an admissions team, one of the first questions that we’re often asked to help with is determining where each of their recruits is at in the recruiting process. Believe it or not the easiest way to do that is…ask them.
- Did you ask them what other colleges and universities they’ve spoken with lately?
- Did you tell them why you needed them to come to campus soon? If you did and they indicated that they might be open to that, did you nail down a specific campus visit event or other weekend to do so? And if they’ve already visited, did you ask if they’d be interested in coming back again?
- Were you confident throughout the phone call? Did you sound like you knew what you were talking about, or did you jump around and not finish sentences and thoughts clearly? If you don’t exude confidence and you don’t speak clearly and thoroughly, don’t be surprised if you hear crickets on the other end.
- Were you able to come away with talking points for future recruiting calls, letters and emails, or were you trying to multi-task during the phone call? (ex. respond to an email) Details matter! Always give your recruit your undivided attention.
- Did you remember to send a follow up email or text message to your recruit after you talked to them? The vast majority of your recruits tell us that they wonder if you “liked” them after the call, and would love to hear feedback from you. Oh, and if you’re going to text them remember there are rules you should follow.
- Did you tell them what’s coming next? Where will the next communication come from? Should they be watching for a letter, an email or something else? You need to tie it all together for your recruit.
- If you’re at the point in the process where they’ve visited campus and have applied and been accepted, did you “ask for the sale?” Most counselors would answer “no” to that question, so don’t stress. Just realize that more prospective students than you might think want the process over and done with at that point. Students that we conduct focus groups with consistently say that when a school asks them for a commitment, it signals to them there’s no doubt that they’re “wanted.” Beyond that, asking for a commitment will give you an indication of where the recruit stands in their decision-making process.
That’s a list of fifteen common things that we would love to see more counselors talk about with their recruits. Why? If a counselor covers each area that I just listed, it almost guarantees that they will be the most interesting admissions representative that the student is speaking with.
Regular evaluation is an invaluable tool to improve your communication skill set. You now have a research-based checklist to work from as you get ready for your next round of phone calls.
Questions? I’m just an email away at firstname.lastname@example.org